By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
GREENSBORO — North Carolina Baptists are going on record with their long held beliefs regarding alcohol, voting to consider a policy that requires those working for the Baptist State Convention, receiving church plant funds from the BSC or serving on a convention committee to abstain from its use.
“We as Southern Baptist in the North Carolina Baptist State Convention want the world to know that we promote the King of Kings, not the King of Beers,” the Rev. Tim Rogers told fellow Christians during the group’s annual meeting Tuesday at Greensboro’s Koury Convention Center.
The pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Indian Trail, Rogers said the motion he put forth, which passed overwhelmingly, does not affect what individual churches have to say about strong drink but makes it clear that “Southern Baptists that make up the North Carolina Baptist State Convention oppose the moderate use of beverage alcohol and will not employ anyone that advances its use.”
Rogers said a number of factors prompted him to propose the move. He said he recently read “Alcohol Today” in which Peter Lumpkins presents a clear biblical position for abstinence. Also, the issue of social drinking was discussed during a recent presidential forum at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Further, Dr. J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, blogged about alcohol use earlier this month. Even though he wrote that he chooses not to drink for a number of reasons and would rather have a “culture of non-drinking around our church than one of drinking,” he left the door open for situations “where I feel like not drinking would hurt the cause of the Gospel,” adding “If my not drinking would be a stumbling block for an unbeliever, I drink.”
“This is such a false argument,” Rogers said. The fact that Dr. Greear is a leader, especially among young pastors, added urgency to Rogers’ mission to clarify Baptist beliefs.
“These three items coming together at one time created within my spirit an unsettling issue that had to be put to rest. I was concerned that the pastors of the BSCNC had been inundated with a false perception concerning beverage alcohol,” he said. “… I was concerned that if we continued down the road we would end up affirming the social use of beverage alcohol.”
Rogers said the motion was conceived during his quiet times with God.
“I cried out to Him asking for an avenue and the wisdom to place it before my fellow pastors and colleagues of the BSCNC,” he said.
After getting some feedback on his first version of the proposal, which would have had broader implications regarding fellowship in the Convention, Rogers said he made some changes and brought the measure to the floor, where the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, spoke in support of it.
The motion directs the Board of Directors to “study a policy concerning the social use of alcohol as it relates to the funding of church plants, employment of personnel, and the nomination of persons serving on committees and boards of the Baptist State Convention of N.C. Inc. and report back to the 2011 annual convention.”
In his presentation, Rogers reminded fellow Baptists that they had publicly opposed Wake Forest University when the college wanted to serve beer for profit on campus and that the Southern Baptist Convention had passed a resolution in 2006 urging that “no one be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee of the SBC that is a user of alcoholic beverages.” But he said that today alcohol is “inundating the culture, our young people and even our pastors.”
The Rev. Creech, a messenger from Carter’s Chapel Baptist in Selma as well as president elect of the American Council on Alcohol Problems, cited a study published Nov. 1 in the medical journal, “Lancet” as he told the crowd that alcohol remains the nation’s number one drug problem, even beyond heroin and crack cocaine. Creech told messengers that he believed that there was little ambiguity in the Scriptures on the recreational use of alcohol and only a shallow reading of Scripture would lead one to believe the Bible just condemns drunkenness and not drinking itself. “Nevertheless,” he added, “I recognize that many other well-meaning Christians believe differently. Still, in this current culture, certainly we can all agree that we are our brother’s keeper and we must never put a stumbling block in our neighbor’s way.”
“While one may not personally suffer any dire consequences from a ‘social drink’ or two, every now and then, by the Christian’s use of beverage alcohol, he or she is giving approval to a baneful enterprise that has no conscience,” he said, and further suggested one reason that lawmakers fail to take seriously alcohol control matters is that church leaders, by their willingness to compromise, are “failing to provide a needed moral compass to society.”
“We are so concerned with being accepted and appealing that we are failing to be holy,” he said.
Rogers said he is unsure why the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina hasn’t taken this action before now.
“I imagine that the convention did not want to lose the support of the moderates,” he said. “However, it is now time to take a stand on this issue…. Reality is, alcohol is encroaching on the life of the church. We now have church plants that are being influenced by other churches that have champagne fountains in their fellowships for New Year’s Eve.”
“We need to let the world know, we believe the Scripture to be true when it says in Proverbs 20:1, ‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.'”
For a look at Rev. J.D. Greear’s blog about alcohol, see www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2010/11/christians-and-drinking-alcohol.html
An article about the study on alcohol published in the Lancet is available at www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2010/11/01/study_alcohol_more_lethal_than_heroin_cocaine/.
To find out more about the annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention, log on to www.ncannualmeeting.org.